Election Live Broadcast Spurs Political Engagement

November 3, 2016

Students broadcast the results of the 2013 election from MBU’s Spencer Center.

Mary Baldwin University students are taking an active role in the 2016 Presidential election.

On November 8, Mary Baldwin’s Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement will encounter a brief makeover as it is transformed into a live broadcast center for election night.

A computer lab in the Spencer Center will turn into a mock newsroom, and student researchers are prepared to go late into the night, monitoring and reporting election results as they come in.  Other student producers, anchors, and members of the behind-the-scenes camera crew will broadcast live news feeds to the university.

That same night students, faculty, staff, and members of the community will watch the broadcast and wait anxiously in a mock convention center on campus complete with patriotic decorations.

Mary Baldwin’s Election Live Broadcast was first brought to life in 2012, inspired by a workshop presented by John W. Williams of Principia College at the 2012 American Political Science Association Teaching and Learning Conference.

Professor of Political Science, Laura Van Assendelft coordinates the event. She explains that the goal of the broadcast is to reach students across disciplines and programs.

“The Election Live Broadcast was intended to reach a broader segment of Mary Baldwin’s diverse student population than typically participates in such activities,” van Assendelft said.cwp_election_11-05-2013_51

Students from multiple fields of study and interest are invited to get involved in the broadcast and share their strengths in bringing the production to life. Student writers, aspiring makeup artists, and computer savvy students are invited to take part in the election night process.

Junior political science major Eshala Bunch will serve as political director for the broadcast, and will facilitate production planning along with fellow student Roniqua Jackson 18’. Both women assign jobs to participating students, including selecting the “news” anchors that will be on camera the night of the election.

“This year’s Election Live Broadcast will be filled with humor and substance in the same breath,” Bunch said. “We will be putting on a show that will provide unbiased, nonpartisan coverage of the issues relevant in the election.”

Civic engagement is such a core part of the MBU experience and Van Assendelft believes the broadcast plays an even higher role for the Mary Baldwin College of Women than meets the eye.

“While young women (ages 18 to 29) vote at higher rates than young men (54.9 percent compared to 47.2 percent in 2008), they are less likely than young men to talk about politics, to pay attention to political news, or to consider a political career,” said Van Assendelft.

With that in mind Van Assendelft hopes that the live broadcast will inspire and cultivate young women’s engagement in politics.

Bunch believes the night will have a lasting effect by providing students with more information about the candidates than they would normally seek out on their own.

“I think this is an informative and engaging way to cover presidential elections for college students who otherwise probably would not be interested,” Bunch said. “It will capture the campus in a way that makes the students more knowledgeable about the issues that played a major role in 2016.”